My time with the American Karate and Taekwondo Organisation saw me cross train in Aiki (mainly without being graded) for about 3-4 years. In that time I did take the 9th kyu grading and of course participated in many mixed sessions.
Having that 9th kyu list, a fertile mind, and the chance to expand my Taekwondo syllabus, I initially thought some 10+ years ago to add the requirements within the TKD 5th and 4th kyu syllabus. Breakfalls were included from white belt but the major Aiki techniques were arbitrarily thrown to the green and blue belts.
I hated that arrangement. It was non-harmonious with the way students learn -- it was Taekwondo until here and then these cool but bizarre techniques and then Taekwondo again. There was little to no synthesis of any of the soft style techniques; the addition to the syllabus just did not create much value to the system.
I then chose to break down this list much more and link individual techniques to the forms as required. Previously where I spread 10-12 9th kyu aiki techniques over the green and blue belt grading requirements, now I had about 6 techniques (plus variations) up to black. So basic techniques are introduced when they are presented during the forms. This approach was conceptually mirrored by Guru Kelly Worden when he used the phrase 'Destroy, Trap, Lock' to describe his approach.
I really liked that instructional approach for combat. It is modified somewhat for a self defence scenario where we 'Escape, Destroy' or just 'Lock, Destroy'. This simple approach allows us to integrate the various Aiki principles that make a lot of sense to our style.
Currently, we will teach handlocks or throws as they appear in the pattern, including the lead up sequence as a 'preamble' to the technique - making it a uniquely Taekwondo offering. Once done, I will include the aiki basic technique (as I learned it) as a 'variant' to the initial lesson. The techniques are also more frequently highlighted in class with self defence situations and scenario based training.
Our style is a hard style system. Traditional Taekwondo generates power on linear acceleration. This does not mean we can't 'flow', or be 'circular', or try to destabalize an opponent's COG as Aikidoists do. But that's not the way we majorly train, and therefore making any locks or throws work in our system mean working with fewer techniques but allowing more integration within a striking framework and combative fluency.
I like Pat's idea that Aiki is great for self defence. It certainly is a very good style for this and has a lot of plusses. The best is that Aiki students are not overly aggressive - this helps put any opponent at ease. The challenge is to make aiki relevant for beginners when that first punch is thrown. There's sometime to be said about pressure testing within a hard style framework - my students know how frightening it is when someone is coming at you and your whole body is screaming in pain.
Yes, I could have lost the plot with aiki. But I think I haven't. Aiki helps me outline what we do with our system - and shows the student what we don't do. Keeping the basics allows for us to add a dimension of effectiveness at close range, and allows the student to 1) control and throw the opponent, 2) understand center of gravity and differences between the styles, and 3) 'feel' the dynamics of the skeletal system as an interconnected system. All great for a hard stylist.
Posts with Handlocks
- Won-hyo: The three knifehands
- Chin na video, dojo rate, and TDA
- Yul-guk: If you control the head, you control the body
- Won-hyo: Defend against anything
- Do-san: Double Knife Hand Against Lapel Grab
- Chon-ji: Breakfalling
- Training Safely
- Chon-ji: Steps 18 and 19 as Osotogari
- Rolls: YOu Need Confidence by William Mioch
- Handlocks for Hard Stylists
- Locks and Throws in Taekwondo
Mokuren Dojo: Pay Attention Aikido is Not Circular
Dojo Rat: Circular or Linear You Decide
Shoshinkan UK: Karate Grappling
The Way of Combining Forces